Photoshop Tutorial : How to create a torn edge effect

I had a very special request for information on how to create a torn edge effect in Photoshop, so here’s one way to do it

1. Open up an image or photography that you want to rip a chunk out of. (*This picture is copyright Joe Stocks through

2. Usually when you open an image in Photoshop, the background layer is locked. To unlock the Background layer and change it into a normal layer, Double-click Background in the Layers palette, or choose Layer > New > Layer From Background. Choose OK. Now you can move this layer around.

3. Add a new layer underneath your image by holding down Ctrl (PC) or Cmd (Mac) and clicking on the new layer button.

4. Click on the bottom layer and fill it with white (or whatever colour you would like your background to be. This colour will be revealed when you rip your image.

5. Select the Lasso tool and make a very rough or jagged selection to create the torn part. Do this quickly so that it doesn’t look too designed.

6. Back on the main image layer (at the top), press Delete to delete this part of image. Press Ctrl + D (windows) or Cmd + D (pc) to deselect.

So now we’ll make is look a bit more realistic.

7. With the top layer still selected in the layers palette, choose Outer Glow from the Add a Layer Style pop-up menu at the bottom of the Layers palette.

On the dialog box, change the Blend Mode to Normal (it’s Screen by default), then change the colour swatch to Black by clicking on it and then selecting Black with the colour picker.

Increase the Size to 20 and leave Spread at 0. This produces a nice soft, dark glow. Click OK to apply this.

8. The final step is to draw another selection just a teeny tiny bit bigger than the first selection you made. Again, do it quickly and loosely.

9. Choose Image > Adjustments > Levels to open up the Levels dialog box. Click on the Output Levels slider and drag it to the right until your selection looks almost white. This will add a bit more realism to your torn paper. Click OK to close the Levels dialog box.

10. Finally, deselect by pressing Ctrl + D or Cmd + D (mac) and voila! There’s your torn paper.

If you want to rough it up a bit more, then you could use an eraser and a rough edge brush, such as a chalk brush, and dab away a little bit more of the edge.


  1. Rev Fr Vincent Gilsenan says:

    Brilliant ! Exactly the effect we need for our magazine project with our young people. Apart from this tutorial,we have learned so much from all your other tutorials. Thank you so much,keep up the good work.

  2. Lisa says:

    You are awesome! Thanks for taking the time to put together some of the best tutorials I have found on the web. That is saying something, isn’t it!? 🙂

    I promise to send something in for PS Fridays – but it won’t be too soon.

    Take care,

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